In December last year, the LOFAR International Working Group (IWG) met at the Sheraton Hotel in Schiphol to hammer out the final form of the governance model that will realise the ILT - the International LOFAR Telescope. Representatives of the various national LOFAR consortia were present, including the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, France, UK, Italy, Poland & a recent new comer, Spain.
Under the chairmanship of Rene Vermeulen, and with Michiel van Haarlem ensuring the LOFAR project as a whole was well represented, substantial progress was made in reaching this goal, although there are still a few outstanding issues that need further discussion and indeed negotiation.
Many of the fundamental premises that Astron would like to see incorporated within the ILT model have their roots and origins in the EVN (European VLBI Network) and its offspring, JIVE. Having a significant "open-skies" policy and a short proprietary period before data enter the public domain are important aspects of that legacy.
As a founding member of both the EVN, JIVE and now the ILT, Astron continues a tradition of being at the forefront of European and international collaboration in radio astronomy. Part of that tradition requires that the "raison d'etre" of the ILT is not solely based on mutual scientific advantage but also on the personal friendships that will also hopefully grow around it over the coming years. For the EVN some of these relations have often been cemented by the occasional "borrel" or two. It's good to see (images above) that the same tradition and spirit of collaboration that almost certainly defines the EVN, also appears to form an important part of the ILT, even at this early stage! It all bodes well for another successful European collaboration in radio astronomy.